- 1 Lotus Carlton – The Ultimate Hyper Sedan of the 1990s
Lotus Carlton – The Ultimate Hyper Sedan of the 1990s
The Lotus Carlton was an extraordinary high performance version of the Vauxhall Carlton/Opel Omega sedan built from 1990-1994. Developed by Lotus, it featured a twin-turbo 3.6L inline-6 making 377 hp, at the time the fastest sedan in the world. Only around 1,100 examples were produced, making the Lotus Carlton a rare legend.
Lotus Carlton Transforming the Carlton into a Supercar
Seeking a flagship to boost their performance reputation, Lotus approached GM Europe about modifying the Carlton sedan into a super-saloon. Lotus substantially re-engineered the car from the engine to suspension to transform it into an outright performance monster. The resulting Carlton and its Opel Omega equivalent shocked the world as 4-door supercars.
High-Tech Twin-Turbo Powerplant
Key to the Carlton’s performance was its heavily tuned twin-turbo 3.6L inline-6 engine, a version of GM’s veteran Lotus-developed unit from the Corvette ZR-1. Lotus further optimized the engine with a new air-to-air intercooler and ECU tuning to boost power to 377 hp and 419 lb-ft torque. This rocketed the Carlton from 0-60 mph in just 5.2 sec with a top speed of over 175 mph.
Lotus Carlton Comprehensive Chassis Upgrades
Lotus redesigned the entire suspension with stiffer, lower springs and special Bilstein shocks to flatten cornering and reduce body roll. Larger brakes wore special pads to resist fading under hard use. Alloy wheels were an inch wider to fit larger tires. This combination delivered agile, neutral handling unrivaled in its day.
Subtly Aggressive Exterior Restyle
Visually differentiating the Carlton from its lesser siblings was important. Lotus subtly restyled the bodywork for a lower, more planted stance. Small front and rear spoilers reduced lift at speed. Twin exhausts emerged at the rear. Special colors like Imperial Green and Arctic White signaled the Carlton’s bizarre nature versus standard Carltons.
Luxurious Cabin with Sports Touches
Inside the Lotus, treatment was even more minimal. The already well-appointed Carlton interior remained largely unchanged aside from Lotus logos on the steering wheel and shift knob. Leather seats, automatic climate control and Bose stereo provided a luxury experience, distinguishing the Lotus Carlton from most stripped-out sports sedans of the era.
Lotus Carlton Instant Controversy and Legend Status
The Carlton generated controversy immediately upon launch as an “unsafe” car available to the public. Its impressive performance numbers made waves in the automotive press. Despite some critics, the Carlton established itself as the ultimate high-tech hyper sedan of its day, a giant killer capable of outperforming fascinating sports cars.
Three decades later, the audacious performance and rarity of the Carlton cements its legend status. For many enthusiasts, it represents the ultimate embodiment of the high-tech, overpowered European super sedans of the 1990s.